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Enhance Fireplace Efficiency and Style

Did you know that if you have a problem with your fire, it may not be a problem with your fireplace or chimney? If you have trouble with your chimney system, and it has been checked for safety, cleanliness, and function, there is probably another issue.Enhancing Your Fireplace - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney Services

Burning Properly Seasoned Wood

Your wood-burning fireplace, stove, or insert is designed to burn properly seasoned wood only. When you use the wrong fuel, the fire doesn’t burn properly and the chimney won’t work properly.
Signs you’re burning the wrong wood:

  • The system requires frequent cleaning
  • An excess of ash due to incomplete burning
  • Dark blue/gray smoke from the chimney
  • Small flame
  • Blackened glass/window on stove or fireplace
  • Smoky fireplace even while damper is fully open
  • More wood required to reach a desired temperature

When you burn the correct wood, you should see a hotter fire, a bigger flame, and thinner smoke. It will take less wood to reach the same temperature, saving you resources, time, and energy (hauling, cutting, stacking wood). When you burn properly seasoned wood, you will find there is less creosote and soot buildup inside the chimney flue, because the air is hot enough to drive it up and out of the chimney system. There will be less particulate pollution to pollute the environment and less necessary cutting from the environment. In all, you will save big when you burn the right fuel in your wood-burning fireplace.

Choosing the Right Wood

Not all woods are created equal. Some trees are much harder than others, and how hard they are will determine how long your wood should sit and season before it’s burned. Trees live and grow using water, and their trunks and branches are filled with tiny vein-like tubes that hold water. When you cut the tree down, or when your supplier cuts it down, these tubes are still filled with water. If you let the whole tree sit, it may take years for tubes to dry, if ever. But if you cut the wood and let it sit, it will dry in a matter of months, and will be ready to burn efficiently.

Hard woods have a higher heat output than soft woods, but require longer to season (6-12 months). Softer species of wood can season in a shorter amount of time (3-6 months), but will burn faster and with less heat output. Which you use will depend on availability and personal need. If you use a fireplace occasionally, you may not be picky about the type of wood you use, but you should be picky about the quality of wood you choose.

Check Your Wood Before You Burn!

Even if you buy your wood, you can make sure it’s seasoned by looking it over before you buy. It should be dull in color, light in weight, the bark should pull away from the wood with cracks along the edges of the wood, and produce a hollow noise when hit together.

The wood you burn plays a big part in how your chimney functions! Revitalize your fire by burning the correct fuel! If you still have chimney problems, ask a professional at Chief Chimney Services. Call 631-863-2460 today.

By John Pilger on September 27th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Enhance Fireplace Efficiency and Style

Tips for Starting a Cold Fireplace

It shouldn’t be a big deal to light a fire in a cold fireplace, but it’s more than you think. Your chimney works by using the draft that hot air provides to push byproducts up the chimney. These vapors include smoke, tar, chemical gases, water vapors, and microscopic particles. These gases can affect the air quality in your home. Your health could be harmed if the gases are allowed into the living area. The best way to prevent a smoky fireplace is to make sure that updraft in the flue is present. If the chimney is cold, the cold air in the flue will not only block the warm air from rising, but will fall into your house. The temperature has to rise in the chimney before it will work properly.

Priming the Chimney

The process of bringing the flue’s temperature up is called priming. The easiest way to prime a cold chimney is to light a newspaper roll and allow it to burn at the base of the chimney. This is usually possible with a fireplace as well as a stove once you locate the opening. When the newspaper roll is burned completely the chimney should be warm enough to support the updraft needed for an efficient burn.

Lighting a Fire in a Cold Chimney

A cold chimney pushes smoke into your house, but it can make the process of fire-building long and bothersome. To make it easier on yourself and your chimney, you can hone your fire-building skills. This means burning only properly seasoned wood, and building a fire that will make some heat. This is because the chimney needs enough heat to create an updraft. After you have primed your chimney, you want to build the best fire possible.

Introducing the Top-Down Burn

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends the top-down burn to build the best fire possible. The top-down burn contradicts everything we think we know about fire-building, but the industry’s top professionals know its worth. Traditionally you would build a fire with kindling and paper at the base, with bigger sticks, medium logs, and finally the largest logs on top. The top-down burn is built the opposite way, with the larger fuel at the bottom, up to the kindling and small bits of lighting paper at the top. This way the fire and embers burn and fall onto the other fuel. The fire burns more efficiently and fuel burns more completely, decreasing smoke and particulate pollution. It also creates a better-burn faster, which drives the exhaust up the chimney.

There is a lot that goes into an efficient chimney system. Be sure your fire is primed before lighting it, otherwise you may ruin your night with a smoky living room. Your chimney is more likely to be cold if its on the exterior, even if central heat is your main heat source. Don’t let the cold air from your chimney fall into your warm house!

Call a professional if you have bigger concerns about your system.

By John Pilger on January 10th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Comments Off on Tips for Starting a Cold Fireplace

Air Quality & Your Chimney

How does your chimney impact air quality in the home?

Picture it—sitting beside the fireplace on a cold, frosty night. You’ve got the fire going, no smoke billowing into the house, logs burning evenly, and you’re enjoying the warmth and the subtle scent of wood burning. Before you take a deep breath, though, you may not realize that being able to smell a wood fire burning in the fireplace is actually a sign of danger. If you are smelling smoke, even in small amounts, this indicates that your chimney is not functioning properly, and that the air quality of your home is being compromised. This is especially dangerous for children and elderly, and those with lung cancer or heart disease, whose lung function is more vulnerable.

Children and those advanced in age are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality.

Children and those advanced in age are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality.

There are many things that release pollutants into the air of our homes, and chimneys are no exception. Wood smoke pollution can cause respiratory issues, cardiovascular illness, cancer, and can damage lung tissue. You can, however, have peace of mind in knowing that there are ways  to reduce wood smoke pollution and to increase the safety and efficiency of your fireplace so that it can continue to contribute to the enjoyment of your home.

Wood Smoke Pollution:

  • Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that can cause cancer
  • Fine particle pollution (ash) that damages lung tissue and creates respiratory problems
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides

Thankfully, there are several solutions to reduce this pollution that can be created by your fireplace and chimney. One option is to replace your current fireplace with a newer, more efficient model that is certified by the EPA. This can be a costly solution, so let’s take a look at a few other things that you can do.

  • Burn only seasoned, dry wood.
  • Burn hardwoods, not softwoods. (Hardwoods burn more slowly and produce less smoke.)
  • Never burn waste of any kind.

The number one thing that you can do is preventive maintenance. Have a chimney specialist regularly inspect and clean your chimney, which will keep your chimney functioning properly and in good working condition.

By John Pilger on September 9th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Air Quality & Your Chimney